An update from Felina Martens —
Last night was a night of many things. Of arm wrestling, testimonies, and tears; the culmination of our time with the youth group.

After day camp every day, we climb the stairs of the shopping center where Puebla de Esperanza is located, to a meal of sandwiches and chips with the Puebla de Esperanza youth group. We share conversations in broken bits of both languages and many laughs. Over the week they’ve become like family, like we’ve known them forever. It is hard to believe how short of time we’ve had, and how even shorter time we have left.

The verb for to smile is sonreír, which sounds like sunrise, and I am amazed at how accurate that is. It also has the word laugh in it: reír. Our time was brief and beautiful, full of smiles and laughter.

Highlights have included Gotcha (paintball), a trip to the fields to play American football and soccer, and the game my father mentioned, Manotaso, which is really just an excuse to laugh together. Newsflash–There’s no way to really win it.

Every day we’ve had the privilege to listen to the stories of our group, both Poblanos and Americans. All are stories of redemption and hope despite the brokenness and pain of being human and living in a lost world.

Yesterday, we all piled into the van for lunch at the house of a family from the church, where we ate fried tacos, (flautas)  and talked and laughed about Star Wars and hypotheticals of the being the world’s greatest… fill in the blank. Eventually, even more of us squished into the van for the brief trip to the Glessners’ house. Just about everything is in walking distance here, but it’s easiest to drive.

The sky was a brilliant Puebla shade of blue but it was also full of dark thunder clouds. We arm wrestled on lawn chairs and burnt our fingers melting the ends of paracord bracelets in the Glessners’ back yard.

Lightning began to flash in the distance as we piled carrots, onions, tomatoes, and jalapeños on hot dogs. It’s how they eat them here.

As the rain began all 40-or-so of us ran into the Gota Center for an icebreaker. Many of us wondered at the logic of an icebreaker when we were already family, but regardless, we followed along. It’s just what you do. We played competitive Rock, Paper, Scissors in a room slightly smaller than your average bedroom. If you lost, you joined the conga line until there was one conga line.

As the rain almost miraculously stopped, we formed a circle outside, and listened as Caleb and a Poblano, we’ll call him Ed, shared their testimonies. Tim followed up with a brief lesson and all of us broke. What followed was an hour of huddling around each other in prayer, crying until we had nothing left to cry, and laughing until we cried again.

At some point Fiona ran into the house and returned with a box of tissues, a concerned smile on her face.

What a joy it is to be a follower of Christ!

To surround one another in love and prayer, embracing and praising God as lightning flashes under dark clouds and tears take the place of rain. To feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in the way our shoulders shook and our hearts caved in. To embrace our brothers and sisters in a deep embrace that crosses language barriers and fear, and speaks in a way our words cannot.  We shared hope in the knowledge our brokenness will end someday. To laugh hysterically over stupid things in the aftermath of letting go.

Yes, what a joy.